What are your biggest regrets? If you’re in your 60s, you may have regrets about your relationships. Or, perhaps you think that your choice of career was a mistake.

Well, talking with the other women in our community, I can promise you one thing – by the time you reach your 70s, one regret will drown out all others. I’m talking, of course, about how much you saved for retirement.

By the time we reach our 60s, it’s easy to think that it’s too late to make a difference in our retirement savings. In reality, our 60s are one of the most important periods for ensuring our financial stability in our later years.

 
 

Not only do we have the opportunity to save more in our 60s, but, we can also take steps to reduce our costs and prepare ourselves mentally to transition to retirement. We can also develop the skills, contacts and plans that we need to supplement our income in retirement, if we need to.

Here are 5 ways to boost your retirement savings in your 60s. If you have any other ideas, please add them in the comments section at the end of this article.

Take a “Practice Retirement”

When it comes to retirement, most of us are way too optimistic. Many of us imagine that we will be able to work well into our 70s, despite knowing that age discrimination is alive and well in the workforce. In addition, we tend to underestimate how difficult it would be to reduce our monthly costs if we needed to.

One way to get a reality check on your retirement planning is to organize a “practice retirement.” This involves a few steps. First, sit down and take a long hard look at your finances. Imagine that you were retiring today.

How much would your monthly income be, including your Social Security payments, investments and other passive income? How much would your costs be? Don’t forget to include any additional healthcare costs that will not be covered when you leave the workforce. Put any extra money into a savings account.

How long you take a practice retirement for is up to you. Some people find that 3 months is long enough for them to get a good idea of what their life would be like with only their retirement income to live on. Other people extend their practice retirement for 6 months or longer.

Not only will this give you an idea of how much you would need to tighten your belt, but, it will also give you an opportunity to save a little extra during your trial.

Take Advantage of Free Money

Not everyone is lucky to work for an employer who matches their 401K contributions. If you are one of the fortunate few, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Your 60s are the perfect time to max out your 401K – or at least contribute to the point that you are maximizing the matching amount from your employer.

While you are thinking about your 401K and other investments, now would be the perfect time to have a conversation with your financial advisor to make sure that your portfolio is balanced correctly.

Start a Side Business

One of the best ways to ensure your financial security in retirement is to build your own sources of income. Obviously, everyone’s situation is different and you don’t want to do anything that conflicts with your full-time job, but, in many cases, working as a freelance consultant or starting a business around one of your passions in your 60s is a smart move.

In fact, there are several reasons that starting a business in your 60s is easier than after you retire. For starters, you are surrounded by business contacts and acquaintances. The unfortunate truth is that it is much more difficult for people to take you seriously as a professional once you retire. It shouldn’t be this way, but, it is. Second, while I would not recommend spending your savings on starting a company, the chances are you will be more willing to invest in your future when you have an income coming in.

Finally, as many people, including myself, have learned the hard way, building a successful business takes time. If you start your business several years before you retire, you should be hitting your stride just when you need to. Here are a few resources to help you find your idea and make it real:

How to Start a Business After 50: Finding Your Idea

How to Start a Business After 50: Finding Your Strengths

Starting a Business After 60? Why “Doing What You Love” Isn’t Enough

Removing Mental Blocks to Starting a Small Business After 50

Want to Start a Business After 60? Ask Yourself these 6 Questions First!  

Renegotiate Your Debts

The last thing that you want following you into retirement is debt. When you are living on your savings and pension, every little bit counts. There is also the risk that you will fall back on paying the monthly minimums on your credit cards, which will extend the pain for years to come.

Many women in the community have told me that the time just before or just after retirement is a fantastic opportunity to go back to your creditors and renegotiate your debts. Everyone’s situation is going to be different, but, I know women who negotiated 25% or more off of their debts, reduced their interest rates to 0% and more. Here are a few specific pieces of advice that they offered for talking with creditors:

Be human – taking an confrontational approach almost never pays off

Be honest – explain the fact that you are retiring and that your financial situation is changing

Be persistent – it may take many attempts before you find someone who can help

Be collaborative – ask the person on the phone to help solve the issue together

Be brave – you will be surprised by what you will get, just by asking

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. If you have reached retirement age, what advice would you offer your Sixty and Me sisters regarding how to improve their financial situation? If you are getting ready to retire, what steps are you taking to improve your chances of having a happy retirement? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going.

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